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  • By Robinson Meyer

    The most hopeful news in Tuesday’s big Pew report on climate change and partisanship isn’t particularly uplifting, honestly. The research agency found that 70 percent of Americans believe tha […]

    • This Pew report is excellent. The investigation of respondents science knowledge is very helpfull.

      I haven’t surveyed it all, but there seems an overly narrow assumption on motivations to support wind and solar given the few endorsing AGW as a fact. Wind and solar bring wealth generation to communities and individuals, they may bring new technology wealth to the country and sustainability is good for our kids.

      Whatever the reason, pluralistic Americans may well go in the right direction if you give them reasons (plural).

    • @OP Title – Republicans Can Understand Science and Still Deny Climate Change

      Anyone can deny anything, if they refuse to look at the evidence, through ideological bigotry, self delusion based on perceived self interest, or on apathetic conservative lazy thinking, they refuse to recognise expert advice.

    • The trouble is that the Republican party has become tribal to a degree that would make religions blush. To get what they want for the corporate masters who pay their bills, they had to form coalitions with various nuts and America is chock full of them. They made themselves the anti-abortion party (among other things) to rope in the Evangelicals. They made the opposition to any gun laws no matter how tepid part of their dogma to rope in the NRA red-neck crowd. They opposed universal health care to pull in those easily frightened by claims of losing their family doctor or the Obama “death squads.”

      To this they added their agendas to protect Big Oil (climate denial) and Big Pharma (the government shall not negotiate drug prices)among others. They threw in fear of government and regulations in general to further grease the way for corporate mischeif and wrapped it all in a small-government, no-taxes bow.

      This became their holy writ and deviation from any of it was blasphemy. Dissenters to any plank were derided with term “RINO” for Republican-in-Name-Only and shunned. If they were politicians, people like the Brothers Koch or Sheldon Adelson would allocate some of their vast fortunes to see that RINOs were denied reelection- not by supporting Democrats but by killing them off in their own Republican primary races and replacing them with pols even more radically bound to the entire script. And so many of the US congressional districts have been so successfully gerrymandered, the primary is the only competitive race. It’s how they won and held the House with a substantial, unassailable majority despite losing the overall House voting by millions.

      So I doubt the will of the people will have any impact on climate policy. There is a whole list of things (like raising the minimum wage) that have overwhelming popular support, but the dogma of the tribe will stonewall them all and I can see nothing that will change that in whatever future is left to us.

    • Judging by Trump, Pence, Cruz, Rubio, Carson, Kaisch, Ryan, Inhoff and numerous other leading Republican politicians, they can’t or won’t understand science. I’ll bet they get upset when their i phones stop working, the car won’t start or when banana man, Ray Comfort, is their best hope of medical help !

    • The major obstacle to public acceptance of “climate science” may have less to do with denial than with indifference to a vague process that apparently proceeds at a snails pace over the human lifetime. The dire warnings that sounded the alarm at meetings to draft the Kyoto Protocols have slipped almost 30 years into the past. Inadvertently climate scientists have dialed back public urgency to take concerted action on a global scale of economy by announcing that even the “experts” cannot predict when ubiquitous consequences will impact world populations or how severe those consequences will be. Understandably most ordinary people remain sanguine in the face of long-term predictions loaded with ambiguity.

      Understandably in an ethos of long-term apocalyptic prophecy, ordinary people prioritize coping with immediate daily tasks, projects and concerns accomplished within the current fossil fuel infrastructure rather than lose sleep over what may happen 30 to 50 years down the road. The hottest decade on record means little to rich and poor alike when the day-to-day weather seems to fall within the normal range. The result is indifference or ambivalence towards scientists who clear their throats and disclaim that they don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. Aren’t scientists who do their jobs supposed to know exactly what will happen and when? Not many seriously worry about consigning global warming to the basement on their lists of concerns….for the time being.

    • Fortunately some of us recognised the the problem 30 (and in my case 20) years ago. We started work on negawatts and renewables. Thats why millions of technologists are engaged now with more or less mature technology. It has taken decades.

      ordinary people prioritize

      Ordinary people have an IQ of 100. Half of us are less than this.

      long-term predictions loaded with ambiguity

      Yes but the ambiguity is not so much about timing as amplitude. It is the upper limit of the range of effects likely that promise a possibility of utter catastrophe.

      The major problem has been the (often inadvertent) prevaricators, now able to inject uninformed opinion into the news mix giving easy routes and excuses to ignore the risks to our own children.

    • @Melvin #5
      “…a vague process that apparently proceeds at a snails pace over the human lifetime.”

      Urgent action is required immediately, including closing coal mines withing a decade. Conservative (Republicans/theists) diversionary tactics, such as the population crisis, deliberately disguise the urgency to act now.

      “scientists who clear their throats and disclaim that they don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. Aren’t scientists who do their jobs supposed to know exactly what will happen and when”

      No Melvin. Conservatives (Republicans/Theists) require absolute certainty. Science doesn’t operate that way, being probabilistic in nature. The IPCC report number 5 stated 95% attribution confidence, up from the previous 90% level of certainty of their reporting. This translates to “most likely” but science won’t afford you with the absolute certainty you seem to need. Climate scientists haven’t “dialed back” their warnings of urgency.

      “climate scientists have dialed back public urgency…in the face of long-term predictions loaded with ambiguity…in an ethos of long-term apocalyptic prophecy”

      Prophesy is for Conservatives (Republicans/theists) and has no place in science. Conservative critics of space exploration demand a “guarantee” of safety for astronauts, prophesying gigantic associated costs, when their scientific illiteracy disqualifies them from announcing such an irrational prophesy.
      The mooted Mars mission is feasible for a minuscule percentage of your military budget for example, but it will still be risky for the astronauts.

      “…what may happen 30 to 50 years down the road.”

      This is classic Conservative (Republican) Denialism, which fails to grasp both the certainty and the urgency being expressed by climate scientists. Lack of absolute certainty can’t reasonably be dismissed as may happen down the road.”

    • Melvin #5
      Oct 17, 2016 at 1:37 am

      The result is indifference or ambivalence towards scientists who clear their throats and disclaim that they don’t know exactly what’s going to happen.

      Ah! Like a motor mechanic who tells foolish drivers heading out into a remote area, that if they don’t top up their engine oil, and fill up their fuel tanks, their cars are likely to run out of fuel and stop – if the engine does not seize up first! –

      Aren’t scientists who do their jobs supposed to know exactly what will happen and when?

      But hey! The motor mechanic has not told which of these will happen first or where or when exactly it will happen, so – take no notice –
      What do mechanics and engineers know about cars?

      They could not even tell the lead footed boy-racer if or how much sooner his car would stop than his more careful mate’s car!

      The mechanics guess about the EXACT place and TIME is no better than anyone else’s (allegedly)!!!! – No need to take any notice of “alarmist warnings”! – They are just trying to profit from selling oil and petrol!

    • Here’s the thing. The science is simple. The science is sound. The science is correct.

      What we scientists can not ever seem to get past is that politics is based on bullshitting. It is an entire human endeavor based on our very very worst traits and abilities. These screaming shit mongers say “climate change is junk science”; but what they mean is “my profits far outstrip any bullshit harm done to the earth or my fellow men/women.”

      Do not get duped into thinking that this is limited to the GOP. They are just poster children for the heinous mistreatment of science in the name of profit. The other side of the aisle is dong the same fucking thing but just in other areas of offense.

      Politics needs to be curtailed and reeled in. Politicians need to face hard fucking time if they are mistreating or misrepresenting their constituency and the churches need to be taxed and taxed at a higher rate than private citizens of they pontificate policy from their pulpits. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

    • My comment is an observation about how the vast majority of people on the planet are thinking and behaving.
      I am not painting a target on myself with a bulls eye that reads scapegoat. It is human-animal nature to take care of oneself and those we care about even if the necessary steps involve “hurting” the environment in the process; contaminating soil, water or atmosphere. Building affordable housing for expanding populations takes precedence over “protecting” open spaces. Driving to work takes precedence over “hating” big oil companies. Tapping out rivers and aquifers for irrigation and human consumption takes precedence over preserving clean water supplies for future generations; clogging the oceans with plastic waste takes precedence over throwing one aluminum can into a recycle bin. No one seems to get why I’m so obsessed with population reduction. The human animal raging over every habitable corner of the earth has become, and will remain the fatal menace to a sustainable environment. We have met the enemy and he is us in our glorious duplicating billions.

    • Melvin #11
      Oct 17, 2016 at 7:55 pm

      The human animal raging over every habitable corner of the earth has become, and will remain the fatal menace to a sustainable environment. We have met the enemy and he is us in our glorious duplicating billions.

      Which raises the question as to if humans can collectively behave with more intelligence than a yeast culture in a barrel of fruit juice – where the yeast exploits all there is to exploit, until there is nothing left to exploit, and it is then starved, pickled, and killed, in its own waste products!

    • Alan, sometimes human arrogance dwarfs intelligence?
      If there were no money involved more people would accept global warming.
      It might be the tipping point in peoples decision making process.

    • If there were no money involved….

      alf1200: If there was no money invoved in your life and the things ( a car?, a house?) money buys would your quality of life suffer?

      Human sins and virtues are joined at the hip and the heart. We can be kind and cruel, greedy and altruistic, arrogant an humble in the same moment. Our problems are not other people. We are all “other” people.

    • Alan4: “Does that mean intelligent people should ignore the warnings they have been given, and just carry on using them for “business as usual?”

      People, more or less intelligent, constitute 7.4 billion specimens on the planet with little frame of reference for the warnings you cite. They have access only to the technology and energy infrastructure in front of them.
      If they own a 1985 Toyota pickup to schlep their produce or wares to market, they won’t give a thought to its CO2 emissions as they go about their daily tasks. If their government delivered them a hybrid or EV version, they would gladly turn over the Toyota to be junked. “Business as usual” describes the way most people have to live in human society. Until affordable components of a near zero-emissions global energy regime are widely distributed under government pressure and market forces , people will give little thought to warnings and exhortations emanating from the sparks of popular media and intermittent political speeches.

    • @Melvin #11 “No one seems to get why I’m so obsessed with population reduction.”

      Any attempted analysis by Conservatives (Republicans in the US, Liberals in Australia) is bound to lack perspective, as very few demonstrate any scientific literacy. Some have begun to tentatively accept “the vague process” of climate science but most continue to reject the need to act quickly. A “snails pace” will suffice. They imagine we have “30-50 years” to implement any radical change to the business as usual model.

      Delay is Denial, and it suits the agenda of the incumbent fossil fuel industry. Playing the victim while scapegoating scientists for their alleged ambiguity; vilifying them for “apocalyptic” scaremongering, appears to be a characteristic Conservative trait. They simply don’t “get” the urgency, nor do they appreciate that timely, decisive action is the most cost-effective solution. Mistakenly some believe that fewer humans can solve the problem, and some are “obsessed” by that irrational prevarication. Conservatives are obsessed with anxieties about others stealing a competitive advantage or consuming too much if they’re forced to act more rationally.